Last evening as we sat on the balcony luxuriating in the lush autumn sun, a flock of Canada geese lifted off the lakeside, dwarfing us mere mortals. If they had pooped we would have been entombed in white slime, not unlike Lot’s wife entombed in salt.
Like her, we look back at the past year which feels like an onslaught of geese poop. We’ve been children hiding behind our ego forts, desperately heaving giant poop balls at the “winter of our discontent.”
How we long to hitch a ride on the backs of Canada geese and head for their homeland where, of course, life is greener… always greener on the other side.
Lest we meet the fate of one who looked back, we turn setting out ready to grow our own green grass.
In this strange stretch of time, we take turns needing and giving solace. What we receive today we give tomorrow. May spirit guide us to pay attention to others’ need for solace and offer it; that we have the humility to accept solace when it is offered. It’s simple. “Shine your shoes. Fill your refrigerator. Water your plants. Make some soup.” Say thank you. And together we will survive.
That’s it. That’s all this blessing knows how to do:
Shine your shoes. Fill your refrigerator. Water your plants. Make some soup.
All the things you cannot think to do yourself when the world has come apart, when nothing will be normal again.
Somehow this blessing knows precisely what you need, even before you know.
It sees what will bring the deepest solace for you. It senses what will offer the kindest grace.
And so it will step with such quietness into the ordinary moments where the absence is the deepest.
It will enter with such tenderness into the hours where the sorrow is most keen.
You do not even have to ask. Just leave it open— your door, your heart, your day in every aching moment it holds.
See what solace spills through the gaps your sorrow has torn.
See what comfort comes to visit, holding out its gifts in each compassionate hand.
Jan Richardson in The Cure for Sorrow: A Book of Blessings for Times of Grief
God, full of mercy, Who dwells above, give rest on the wings of the Divine Presence, amongst the holy, pure and glorious who shine like the sky, to the soul of Ruth Bader Ginsburg…for whom prayer was offered in the memory of her soul. Therefore, the Merciful One will protect her soul forever, and will merge her soul with eternal life. The Everlasting is her heritage, and she shall rest peacefully at her lying place, and let us say: Amen.
In Memoriam RBG
We fold our splintered spirits Into the waiting arms Of the Crescent goddess And hang on to the last vestiges Of hope smoldering in the ashes Of our rancorous discontent.
May our god full of compassion Grant compassion to Your abandoned ones Bereft and beset with despair. Unleash her holy audacity In an outpouring of strength That will pry us from the comfort Of our grief.
May we rest in peace with her- Not a “piecemeal peace,” But a peace That “comes with work to do… Comes to sit and brood.”*
My pastor, Megan Ramer (seattlemennonite.org) offered this prayer yesterday, and in turn I offer it to you on this day dominated by horrific memories of the 9/11 attack on the United States. Pictures of powerful wildfires and suffocating lowland smoke are a constant reminder of the violent unrest sweeping through many cities; violence fueled by the hot wind of divisive rhetoric spewing from the mouths of those entrusted with the mandate to protect and care for their citizens.
Still. And yet. The image of this lilly, exquisite in it’s vulnerability and exposed to the sun and elements, calls me to remain open to hope. Vulner-able. Accepting the wound and exposing ourselves to the possibility of healing. May the healing you long for be yours today.
Sharing a prayer by Anna McKenzie, from Good Friday People by Sheila Cassidy, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1991
And so we must begin to live again, We of the damaged bodies And assaulted minds. Starting from scratch with the rubble of our lives And picking up the dust Of dreams once dreamt. And we stand there, naked in our vulnerability, Proud of starting over, fighting back But full of humility At the awareness of the task. We, without a future, Safe, defined, delivered Now salute you God. Knowing that nothing is safe, Secure, inviolable here. Except you. And even that eludes our minds at times. And we hate you As we love you, And our anger is as strong as our pain. Our grief is deep as oceans, And our need as great as mountains. So, as we take our first few steps forward Into the abyss of the future, We would pray for Courage to become what we have Not been before And accept it, And bravery to look deep Within our souls to find New ways. We did not want it easy God, But we did not contemplate That it would be quite this hard, This long, this lonely. So, if we are to be turned inside out, And upside down, With even our pockets shaken, Just to check what’s rattling And left behind, We pray that you will keep faith with us, And we with you. Hold our hands as we weep, Giving us strength to continue, And showing us beacons Along the way to becoming new. We are not fighting you God, Even if it feels like it, But we need your help and company, As we struggle on. Fighting back And starting over.
I am howling today. It’s a cathartic spiritual practice I sometimes engage in because it gets me deep inside an experience. Often it is the only way to break through to hope…if I’m brave enough to let spirit take me there.
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall Song by Bob Dylan
….I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall….
Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son? Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one? I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’ I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest….
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’ But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’ And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
“SoulCards” by Deborah Koff-Chapin. The technique Deborah has created is called “touch drawing.” The cards come in two decks of 60 images and can be used alone or with others as reflection tools. They have enriched my meditation for years and have helped those I companion with. http://www.soulcards.com
This morning when my friend asked for prayers in dealing with negativity I recognized my own need immediately. I offer a practice and a prayer.
Practice To Release Negative Energy
Once settled in a comfortable position (lying on my back works well for me), ground yourself with breathing.
When focused, begin the ritual of releasing negative energy embedded in your aura, your brain, anywhere in your energy field where it tends to get stuck. Imagine using your hands to unravel and pull out the pieces of negative energy, sending each one down your spine, and into the ground where it can be reconstituted… recycled for the good, if you will. Accompany the release with the words, “Releasing this unwanted negative energy….sending it down to the earth.”
When finished, take the time you need to let welcome, positive energy to settle in. Follow the ritual with a physical cleansing with water, sage, or incense.
A Prayer For These
Photo Credit: Cathedral of light | vivid sydney 2016
This poem came from meditation at a time when conditions in our world weighed heavily on me. LOL! If only I had known the conditions we endure in this moment! It feels like the time to revisit the poem. We seek to tame the current of fear that rushes over imposing boulders springing up in our unconscious. So we flex our intellectual prowess in countless monologues across social media, in offices, living rooms and backyard gatherings. We seek to blame and fix. In our love for justice we can continue our self-assigned role as “The Great White Fixers,” or we can practice waiting, listening more intentionally for the words of the oppressed.
We must act for justice, AND there is this from James Baldwin:
The root of the black man’s hatred is rage,
and he does not so much hate the white man
as simply as wants them out of his way,
and, more than that,
out of his children’s way.
James Baldwin I Am Not Your Negro
I hear my rapid thought-fire
Ricochet off your heart,
Creating a wall of words to
Keep me safe.
Wait for the space
Between the thoughts
Between the words.